Let's play a game

Published December 14, 2004 8:14PM (EST)

You're George W. Bush and the head of the civil rights commission tells you things you don't want to hear -- how do you deal with it? Get rid of her, naturally, and find someone who thinks the probem of discrimination is "overstated" by civil rights groups:

"Mary Frances Berry, whom President Bush declined to reappoint ... made a reputation in her 25 years on the commission for haranguing presidents for not doing enough to recognize what she considered the persistent vestiges of discrimination. She fired off a 166-page report last week as a parting shot that criticized the Bush administration for fomenting a divided nation."

"Instead the president chose [Gerald A. Reynolds, 41, an African-American lawyer and] a fellow conservative who once described affirmative action as a 'big lie' ... Some longtime civil rights advocates cringe at Mr. Reynolds's arrival, noting his writings against affirmative action -- he opposes racial preferences -- and what they say was his unenthusiastic enforcement of civil rights laws when he was assistant secretary of education in charge of the Office of Civil Rights at the Education Department a couple of years ago. 'His appointment effectively brings to an end the Civil Rights Commission,' said Wade Henderson, the executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a coalition of groups."

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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